Senate Democrats introduce new voting rights bill

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The amended bill, now known as the Freedom to Vote Act, is a compromise after the previous People’s Law in the Senate failed last June.

Significantly, the new bill was crafted by a group including moderate Senator Joe Manchin, a decisive vote, after opposing an earlier version of the legislation claiming it was too broad and lacked bipartisan support. .

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., has pledged a vote on the bill next week, most likely a procedural vote to break an expected GOP obstruction.

“It is a good proposal. A proposal that no one in this chamber should oppose,” Schumer said Tuesday morning in the Senate. “My colleague, Senator Manchin, is working with Republicans to gain support for the bill and we look forward to hearing any changes they may make to the law.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Had a different opinion.

“Apparently every few weeks the Democrats get into this again. The last ‘compromise’ of this week is just a compromise between the left and the far left. It is the product of the Democrats of Washington, which is negotiating among themselves over the power they should take, contains many of the same fatal flaws as their previous takeover attempts which have already fallen flat, ”McConnell said.

“These are bogus solutions in search of a problem,” McConnell added, noting that Republicans “will not let Democrats in Washington abuse their very slim majorities in both chambers to override state and local governments and appoint themselves a national electoral board on steroids. “

Amendments to the newly negotiated electoral reform bill.

The new bill still includes sweeping changes to the electoral law, voter identification requirements, expanded early voting, making election day a national holiday, banning partisan gerrymandering and implementing electoral security measures and campaign finance.

But among the abandoned or modified provisions is the automatic sending of ballot papers. Under the new measure, any voter can request a postal ballot, but it is not sent automatically. The law will continue to allow purges of voters’ lists, but requires changes to be “made on the basis of reliable and objective evidence and prohibits the use of returned mail sent by third parties to suppress voters.”

The bill would also no longer implement public funding for presidential and legislative elections. Nonetheless, there are a number of election security provisions, including the nationwide mandatory use of machines that issue paper ballots.

In an attempt to address Republican states that have passed changes giving partisan officials a say in election results following President Donald Trump’s false claim that the 2020 presidential election was ” stolen, “Senate Democrats proposed in the bill establishing” federal protections to isolate non-partisan state and local officials who administer federal elections from unwarranted partisan interference or control. “

The point is, this legislation is key to stopping some of the most egregious attacks on voting rights occurring at the state level. A few weeks ago, the governor of Texas signed off on one of the bills. law to suppress the most radical voters in the whole country, ”said Schumer.

Voting rights advocates have praised the bill and urged the Senate to pass it.

“The Freedom to Vote Act is a very strong bill. It gives a powerful new impetus to the fight to protect democracy. It should be passed, and soon,” said Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law.

“There is now no substitute for action. As the redistribution unfolds across the country, time is running out. Lawmakers on both sides should pass this new legislation, and will if they are serious about protecting the democracy, ”he added.

It’s unclear whether this bill would garner the support of many Republicans, although Manchin spoke to his moderate colleague Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. The minority blocked the Democrats’ first stab at the bill, saying it was a solution in search of a problem and claiming that the administration of the elections is in the hands of states – and not from the federal government.

Still, Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, who does not believe the elections should be federalized, signaled that there were provisions in the latest bill that she could support.

“He sent me a very high level summary last week that they read, but it doesn’t have a lot of fleshed out details. There are two provisions in that if done correctly I would argue. One is disclosure of contributors to black money groups, but it should apply to everyone, ”Collins said.

Ten Republicans would be needed to overcome the chamber obstruction rule requiring 60 votes for most laws. To change that rule, the 50 Democrats would have to agree to changing Senate rules to allow legislation to pass a simple majority vote – Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie – but Manchin adamantly said refused to support such an extraordinary gesture.

“Systematic obstruction is permanent,” Manchin told ABC News when he insisted on a specific exclusion from voting rights.

At this point, it looks like there probably isn’t enough GOP support to pass the measure, although Manchin said he was continuing conversations with Murkowski and the Senate had “made good progress” in finding a compromise.

“We have made some major changes from where we were originally from and we have something that makes a lot of sense,” Manchin told ABC News congressional correspondent Rachel Scott on Tuesday.

“I can’t wait to go talk to all of my Republican friends, which I have done, giving them an outline of what we’re trying to change and see if there’s an obstruction,” he said. he adds.

ABC News’s Allison Pecorin contributed to this report.

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